YOUNGSTOWN - Dustin Flick just kicked a drug problem and is trying to get his life back in order.
He took another step in that direction Thursday when he turned himself in on two outstanding warrants from Municipal Court at Operation Safe Surrender, a program by state Attorney General Mike DeWine that allows people with outstanding non-violent misdemeanor warrants to turn themselves in and have a chance to clear up their cases.
The program has already been held in Trumbull and Mahoning counties, and Thursday was its first day here. It runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Saturday at First Presbyterian Church, 201 Wick Ave.
Defense attorney Steven Maszczk, left, and his client, Dustin Flick, stand before Youngstown Municipal Judge Robert Milich during Operation Safe Surrender on Thursday at the First Presbyterian Church in Youngstown. Forty-four people turned themselves in during the first day. Photo by Joe Gorman
Flick had two warrants stemming from driving under suspension charges he had in 2010 and then failing to show up din court for them.
The Canfield man pleaded no contest to one charge and the other was dropped. He was given a fine which he said he was able to pay and his case was cleared.
''I got everything else taken care of, so I thought I'd do this, too,'' Flick said.
Ashley Moore of Youngstown was also on hand as she had warrants for a no operator's license charge in Mahoning County Court in Boardman. She said she came to the event because it was close for her and also because she needs to clear her case up so she can get her license back.
''It's convenient for me,'' Moore said.
DeWine said he likes holding the event at churches because it puts people at ease. He also said the program is beneficial and promotes safety because people with warrants are less likely to report crime, even if they are a victim.
It is estimated that Mahoning County has 15,000 outstanding warrants, which is the largest event DeWine's office has done. Besides Municipal Court, there was also a judge from Mahoning County Court on hand, and probation officers from those courts as well.
After the first day, 44 people had turned themselves in. Eleven people didn't have a warrant, but many owed the courts money and were able to be placed on payment plans.
Two felons, one each with a warrant, surrendered and 31 people had 40 misdemeanor warrants cleared. There were also two arrests on misdemeanor charges.
"To have misdemeanor arrests during a Fugitive Safe Surrender event is rare," said Jill Del Greco, public information officer for DeWine.
Although there is no guarantee that anyone who shows up will not be taken into custody, DeWine said for the most part, the surrender events do not result in people going to jail.
''Our experience has been that very few people end up going to jail right away,'' DeWine said.
Also on hand were defense attorneys to assist people who were turning themselves in. Jeff Oleksiak of the attorney general's office said officials asked the Mahoning County Bar Association for assistance in providing defense attorneys and several attorneys volunteered to work the event, as well as 30 other volunteers who were on hand to help out.